Argh! It took me 40 seconds to root out my typo in Alan Arbesfeld's New York Times crossword, "Extra Play." I think many of us who time ourselves have a cutoff in mind, below which we're delighted by our performance. Or a rival we want to edge out. For me, the Sunday cutoff is 8 minutes flat, and typoing myself out of clocking in ahead of Byron (...[Poet who wrote "She walks in beauty, like the night"]) Walden makes me grumbly. (I'll feel worse when the other speed demons show up and put me to shame too. ..Yep, there's Howard Barkin now.) UBSAY! That B is right next to the N key.
As for the puzzle itself: Hey! I like it. "Extra Play" in sports is sometimes called OT, or overtime, and the theme entries are altered by the addition of OT to the end of one word. The theme answers alternate between the first and last words taking the OT. A few of the theme entries made me smile:
The clues and answers I liked the most are:
I probably won't get to all the Sunday puzzles today—an out-of-town guest came a day early, the Jazz Festival is in town, and the blue skies are glorious.
I just solved Pancho Harrison's syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, "Good Help Is Hard to Find," and regrettably, I found the theme off-putting. Each one is an occupation modified by an adjectival phrase that rhymes with it, but the results clank rather than sing. An [Out-of-shape policeman?], for example, is an ABOUT-TO-DROP COP, and a [Wandering cabby?] is a WAY-OFF-TRACK HACK. The theme phrases don't have a natural flow to them, and they're not inherently funny either. I will surely enjoy Pancho's subsequent crosswords much more, as I've really liked many of his earlier ones.
Time to head downtown—I bid you adieu for now.
Updated Monday morning:
I did Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Guess the Theme," late last night when I was falling asleep. I was too tired to notice the theme in the first 11 long entries before I reached 112-Across, which revealed what tied the theme together: IT'S THE BERRIES is an [Old expression of admiration] that I've never heard before, but it does point the way to the berry theme: Each theme entry contains a word or part of a word that can be followed by berry. ALAN CRANSTON serves up cranberries; a STATE SLOGAN, loganberries; CHUCKLE-HEADED, huckleberries; RASPUTIN, raspberries; TRUE BLUE, blueberries—and so on. Cute! I confess I have no idea what berry lurks within HALLELUJAH.
August 30, 2008